I’ve been under the weather lately and thus have spent a couple of days near my garden but not in it (i.e. in a bed, the kind with a mattress). Maybe that’s why I noticed ambient sounds more acutely than usual, not having the distractions of deadheading, trimming, raking and watering.
Out of all this comes a list of grumpy observations:
1. Gardening in suburbia is a noisy business. For much of the two days in question the roaring of lawn mowers prevailed, a relentless noise that made me feel I was in a war zone, not in peaceful, quiet Oak Bay. I reminded myself that some folks hereabouts find the “racket” of crows intolerable and a few huff and puff that “the government” should “do something” about them. But the epic roar of mowers, is, apparently just fine.
2. Ditto for the whine of string trimmers (weed whackers, weed eaters, whipper-snippers et al.) Believe me, these devices whack more than weeds. They can do untold damage to young trees and the nerves of the weary and irritated. And we can look forward to leaf-blowers in fall, oh joy!
3. Maximum noise from these mainly gas-powered devices is achieved on weekdays, when hired guns (lawn and garden services) arrive with their arsenals and rip through a property quickly, mowing and trimming at the same time. The property owners, of course, are at work, and arrive home to find their place all ready for kicking back around the barbie. Unfortunately, weekends are the favoured time for mowing and trimming by those who do their own “yard work” (as distinct from gardening). Some have a knack for getting out the self-propelled, auto choke with EZ start monstrosity on calm, (otherwise) idyllic evenings perfect for gardening or relaxing around the barbie. This is permitted by law, but keeping chickens is tightly regulated — because of noise and smell. Hydrocarbons and combustion engines, of course, are signs of progress, lifting us from our agrarian, chicken-scratched patches of earth to suburban bliss.
4. Still with the subject of garden sounds, here is one not caused by any machinery but by the clumsy gardener: OK, you’re halfway into a perennial bed or border, secateurs in hand, doing maintenance. You admire a nice spike of flowers, on Digitalis lutea, for example. Then you lean forward to trim off a spent peony bloom. Just as you reach it, you hear (or maybe “feel” is more accurate) a quiet, juicy snap. When you straighten up, the yellow foxglove bloom is hanging at an acute angle, never to rise again. You can call it “premature deadheading” if you like, but it’s annoying, especially because it’s your own fault, not the neighbour’s.
5. Being sick in bed is a great time for dreaming up half-baked conspiracy theories, something I’ve always enjoyed at the best of times. Such as the notion that we humans are too hard on this planet and so must have come from somewhere else in space. Maybe our distant ancestors were exiles from a tougher world — one of stainless steel and teflon, blessed with endless sunshine, hamburgers, beer and fossil fuels. And maybe the current U.S. debt crisis can be blamed on Dr. Spock’s advocacy of permissive child-rearing. Well, maybe not — the good doctor apparently denied being in favour of that kind of permissiveness. Dang. Well how about…
Finally, a reminder that there are only nine days left in the Smashwords Summer/Winter sale — only nine days in which to acquire my novel, The Friendship of Mortals, at a 100% discount.